I don’t think most yuppies transform into hippies overnight. Those of us that go the corporate/law firm route after grad school tend to embrace a certain look, gravitate towards urban dwellings and maintain an intense life style for many years. We work hard, then play hard. And during this phase of our lives, huge sums of money are spent not just on impressive homes, but also on expensive cars, clothes, travel, and entertainment. We embrace a “healthy” competitive atmosphere both at work and with our friends, and often rely on generous amounts of alcohol to help to ease all our pains.
The yuppie life-style takes a drastic change for many only after we become parents. All of a sudden, maybe that hip urban pad isn’t the best place for kids. Then there’s the whole issue of work-life balance that starts to creep into your agenda at the office, and while some firms may be open to a flexible schedule, most won’t be thus, forcing you to decide what changes/sacrifices you are willing to make in your own life to get what you really want.
Only after I came back from maternity leave did I learn that (contrary to representations previously made) my firm was not open to a flexible schedule. I also realized that commuting to into downtown DC from my home in upper North West was more trouble than it was worth. So, I decided to open my own firm in Bethesda, and eventually I moved out of DC completely opting to raise my son in the suburbs. As part of this quest for a calmer life, I pursued additional training in alternate dispute resolution methods, including mediation and Collaborative Divorce. I also got a life coach and started journaling and meditating to help process all these changes I was experiencing both professionally and personally. And ever so gradually, I found myself arguing less and inquiring more, focusing less on advancing positions and more on finding solutions.
As my priorities continued to change, I cared less and less about the latest “hot spots,” expensive cars or fancy clothes, and really that money needed to be reallocated towards my child’s needs not my frivolous wants. I found great joy in my mommy organized playdates, and soon my craving for those hard-core kick-boxing classes were replaced by yoga, especially those classes with a guided meditation component. Soon thereafter, I heard myself passionately talking to friends and colleagues about the need to feed into positive energy and limit our exposure to those stuck in a negative loop. And then I came home from yoga one day after stopping at Whole Foods (with my hair in a messy bun and yoga mat in tow) and came face to face with a teenager, who called me “quite the hippie.” It took me a second to appreciate the situation– after all, that kid was my son, and his comment was not meant as an insult. That’s when I realized holy crap, he’s right!
My gradual shift over the past decade towards a more peaceful and mindful way of living was certainly not intentionally or methodically plotted out, but now looking back it’s all been a gentle nudge in the right direction. I definitely don’t miss that intense yuppie chic, and much prefer a balanced law practice and personal outlook that doesn’t see everything as a competition. Life is not a zero sum game, it just took that girl from Queens, NY a really long time to figure that out.
If you are dissatisfied with your yuppie life, don’t be discouraged. Realizing what you don’t like is an effective way to then find motivation to try something different. It’s a never-ending process actually in each person’s attempt to find satisfaction and sustained contentment. Take your time trying out various athletic endeavors, spiritual exercises, sources of revenue, fashion styles, friendships, and ultimately allow yourself to gravitate towards the life style that suits you best, not the one you think others expect you to live.
20 years ago I would have died if someone referred to me as a hippie, but now I take that as a total compliment– even though I’m not about to give up on hip-hop, go vegan, start burning incense, wear exclusively baggie clothes or go live in a commune. 🙂
By Regina A. DeMeo